Humoral immunity in the chicken as affected by mercury

  • Matthew A. Bridger
  • J. Paul Thaxton

DOI: 10.1007/BF01055000

Cite this article as:
Bridger, M.A. & Thaxton, J.P. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. (1983) 12: 45. doi:10.1007/BF01055000


An evaluation was made of the effects of chronic and acute mercury (Hg) treatments on humoral immunity in the chicken. Three treatments were examined,i.e., chronic, acute high, and acute low Hg treatments. Although chronic dietary treatment with 300 ppm of Hg in the drinking water was growth inhibitory, acute high and low Hg treatments given by IM injections were not growth inhibitory. Chronically-treated birds showed suppressed primary and secondary responses to challenge with sheep red blood cells (SRBC). Additionally, immunoglobulin M levels were reduced to a greater extent than immunoglobulin G levels in chronically-treated birds. These effects did not occur in birds that received acute high and low Hg treatments. Immune suppression by growth inhibitory Hg treatment agrees with published reports and the differential effect on specific immunoglobulin levels is a new finding. Primary responses toBrucella abortus (BA) in chronically-treated birds were also suppressed, but secondary responses were enhanced. These data further clarify the role of Hg on immune responsiveness in chickens.





sheep red blood cells


Brucella abortus antigen

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew A. Bridger
    • 1
  • J. Paul Thaxton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Poultry ScienceNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleigh